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‘They are all about 12 years old’: The first time The Sex Pistols were ever mentioned in the press

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Some of the stories about the early days of The Sex Pistols are as well known as that tale of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the nativity and the visiting of the three wise bears. (Kings, surely?-Ed.)

For example, we all know by now how John Lydon was spotted wearing a Pink Floyd tee-shirt with “I hate” scrawled across it, how he auditioned in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop SEX by singing along to Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen,” or how Steve Jones propelled the group into national infamy on teatime television by calling local news channel host Bill Grundy a rude word:

Jones: You dirty sod. You dirty old man!

Grundy: Well keep going, chief, keep going. Go on, you’ve got another five seconds. Say something outrageous.

Jones: You dirty bastard!

Grundy: Go on, again.

Jones: You dirty fucker! [Laughter from the group]

Grundy: What a clever boy!

Jones: What a fucking rotter.

Etcetera, etcetera….

Ah yes, some of these stories are so well known they’ve become part of the furniture of modern pop culture. So pull up a chair and have a seat. When that infamous interview happened in December of 1976, the PIstols’ manager Malcolm McLaren feared the band had blown their one chance at fame. How wrong could he have been? The next day (of course) the front page of nearly every tabloid newspaper in England featured the Pistols with headlines raving on about “the filth and the fury.”

From that forth, the Sex Pistols were never ever out of the news again.

Yet, here’s the thing—the very first words ever written about the Pistols in the MSM actually appeared in the New Musical Express a year before the Grundy show incident in the December 27, 1975 issue of the New Musical Express, in a review about a student ball.
 
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Peter Gabriel scrubs up nice: The NME when its writers were good.
 
The Pistols were just seven weeks old and had played only three gigs when they appeared at the “All Night Christmas Ball” at Queen Elizabeth College, Kensington, London, on November 27 1975. The Pistols were on a bill topped by the likes of Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Mike Absolom and Slack Alice. It was in a review of this all nighter by NME staffer Kate Phillips that the Sex Pistols were to be given their very first media name check.

“Oh, yes,” says the Social Sec, “and then there are the Sex Pistols. You missed them.”

“Were they any good?” I asked brightly.

“They played for expenses,” he countered.

The Sex Pistols were huddled against a far wall of the dance floor. They were all about 12 years old. Or maybe about 19, but you could be fooled. They’re managed by Malcolm, who runs ‘Sex’ in the King’s Road, and they’re going to be The Next Big Thing. Or maybe The Next Big Thing After That. Meanwhile, we drank a lot.

It’s been long assumed that the first mention of The Sex Pistols came from a review by Neil Spencer of the band’s Marquee gig in February 1976. Now we know different.
 
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Journalist and author Paul Gorman who first unearthed this little barroom fact also notes:

Phillips was accompanied to the Queen Elizabeth College event by her partner and NME assistant editor, the late Tony Tyler (who was also with Spencer at the February 76 gig at The Marquee).

In the “On The Town” section on page 27, it was tucked beneath the lead review by Chris Salewicz of a Birmingham gig by the briefly popular hard-rock outfit Mr Big (headlined: “A yob in a support band is something to be.”).

Phillips started her column-and-a-bit thus:

“I was there for six hours and I can hardly remember a thing. It must have been a great party. Looking back it was meeting the Sex Pistols that started my downfall…”

She also wrote:

“I was soon in no condition to meet the rugger student who reeled over to our little island of determined hipness.

‘Why is your hair so short?’ he burbled. ‘I mean are you in a gwoop or something?’

I warmed to the man. He had taken me for a Sex Pistol!

A jig band came on. The students broke into the Gay Gordons.

‘What a monstrosity,’ muttered a Sex Pistol gloomily.”

Criticised that day on the bus by my then-girlfriend for my absorption in the music paper, I packed the issue away but kept hold of it, understanding even then that halfway down page 27 of that week’s NME, Phillips and Tyler had stumbled across the future.

So, there you have it. These then are the very first words, the very first first drops from which a deluge of salacious copy would follow.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.28.2016
10:47 am
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NME gets Fiona Apple wrong, very, very wrong
06.13.2012
08:26 am
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Not a good week for the NME. First, publishing an apology to Morrissey, and now this. Oh dear.

Via Wears The Trousers magazine.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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06.13.2012
08:26 am
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Announcement: Texans Like Steak, Oil-Wells, Large Hats and Eno
05.04.2012
12:44 pm
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I pretty much just posted this for the zany title. It’s from a NME article dated December 7,1974 by Chris Salewicz, which you can read here in its entirety.

Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.04.2012
12:44 pm
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Rarely seen 1974 promo for Sparks ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’
10.02.2011
11:15 am
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1974 NME Sparks cover - uploaded by Sparksmael.
 
Yes, it’s an original 1974 promo clip for Sparks’ classic glam-era chart topper! Not enough people know that this video exists, which includes even a lot of Sparks fans - I only discovered it myself quite recently. It’s not amazing but it is fun, and is worth a watch to see Russel’s uber-camp flying leap at 0:35. Not to be too down on Queen, but a lot of people assume that “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both Of Us” was a cash in on the opera-pop of “Bohmenian Rhapsody”, which is not the case. “This Town…” was released a whole year before Queen’s smash, and this video pre-dates their “Bohemian Rhapsody” promo too - in fact Queen supported the Mael brothers on some of their first ever UK dates in 1973, so it’s pretty safe to assume the influence was the other way around. But, hey, this isn’t a competition, both bands were high-class acts, I’m sure Queen fans will find a lot to like in this clip:
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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10.02.2011
11:15 am
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Morrissey brands Royal Family ‘benefit scroungers’

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Y’know, sometimes he does speak the truth. From the NME:

In an interview broadcast on BBC 5live this morning (April 27), the singer said he won’t be watching the wedding, which is set to be seen by a global audience of two billion people.

“Why would I watch the wedding? Why would I watch it?” Morrissey said. “I couldn’t take any of that seriously. I don’t think the so-called royal family speak for England now and I don’t think England needs them. I do seriously believe that they are benefit scroungers and nothing else. I don’t believe they serve any purpose whatsoever.”

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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04.28.2011
01:17 pm
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